My biggest fear about Ron Paul

(Cross-posted from my blog. I know that most of you will not agree with what I write here, but I offer my opinion candidely and I apologize in advance if that offends anybody)

I have to admit that I like Ron Paul. A lot. While Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinch are also speaking up against the transformation of the USA into a Neocon empire, the former, while certainly sincere and well-meaning, is too prone to antics and the latter showed an unforgivable lack of courage when he abstained during the vote on the infamous House Resolution 1400. In contrast, Ron Paul has shown impeccable character and courage in opposing the Neocons and he has a sterling record on refusing to vote for idiotic and propagandistic resolutions in Congress. Nobody, not even his opponents. seriously disputes that he is an honest and dedicated man.

The fact is that Ron Paul is in a league of his own. Not only that, but from all the anti-Neocon candidates he is the only one who has a conceivable chance, however small, of getting the nomination of his party (that could only happen if the Republicans finally realize that Ron Paul is the only Republican who, being anti-war, could beat the AIPAC-controlled Hillary).

Some of Ron Paul’s views raise concern among my friends. For example, Ron Paul’s belief that the Social Security Administration, the CIA, the FBI or the IRS should be eliminated might, at first glance, appear somewhat bizarre, but one must keep in mind a couple of things here:

1. Many federal administrations have, in the past, proven to be highly ineffective (can anyone name a single success of the CIA?)
2. Some federal functions could be better implemented on the state level
3. These are long-term goals and not something which Ron Paul would try to immediately implement if elected
4. None of these reforms could be implemented without Congress anyway

These standard objections to Ron Paul’s program really do not worry me at all.

More worrisome is Ron Paul’s beliefs in the values of deregulation such as, for example, “Internet neutrality” which he opposes. I can only explain that kind of irrational phobia of any regulation, no matter how obviously needed, by the typical “blindspot” of all US libertarians who, on principle and by definition, consider anything “government” as bad and who therefore automatically blame any corporate excesses upon government and its supposed “corporatism”. US libertarians are simply unable to accept the fact the corporations needs to be reined in by the civil society. They will always argue that a “truly free market” would resolve all issues of corporate greed, abuse, corruption and exploitation, nevermind that there has never, ever, been a truly free market anywhere and that there shall never be one either (the very concept of truly free market is based upon the idea of perfect competition which, in turn, is predicated on the two false assumptions of 1) perfect access by all to all information and 2) that information is free).

Nevertheless, this valid objection to Ron Paul’s idea on corporate power versus society needs to be placed in context. For one thing, corporate greed and power has reached such levels in the USA that it can scarcely be made worse: the US is already a country “by the corporations and for the corporations” in which none of the mechanisms which serve to keep corporations in check in civilized societies (unions, laws, regulations, elected representatives, etc.) have survived. Frankly, there is nothing Ron Paul could do to make this situation worse. Furthermore, even if some regulatory control over the corporate world, or some meager social right of the US worker, could conceivably be removed by a Ron Paul administration it would only very marginally affect the social Auschwitz which the USA has already become. In fact, I would argue that considering how toxic many US regulations are, or how pathetically vacuous US workers “right” have become over the past decades, some reduction in the federal red-tape just might be helpful, in particular if state and local governments substitute themselves to Washington on a more local and decentralized level.

Lastly, any valid criticism of some aspects of Ron Paul’s program should be contrasted with the two most salient and immensely important pillars of his entire worldview: a total rejection of imperial policies and wars of aggression abroad and an uncompromising dedication to civil rights domestically.

No, what really worries me about Ron Paul is something he said during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN. When Blitzer asked him whether he would consider running as an independent third party candidate Ron Paul replied: “I never think about that, I have no intention of doing that“.

Contrast this with this entry on the Lew Rockwell blog:

The House He Lives in Really Is America to Him

Posted by Mike Tennant at July 6, 2007 03:21 PM
A member of the Pittsburgh Ron Paul Meetup Group, who wishes to be known here merely as “Freedom Fighter,” wrote the following to the members of our group today:

I am 60 years old. I have always voted for smaller government and to uphold the Constitution. I have never gotten what I voted for. Today I put my home up for sale. I am taking the proceeds and going to spend it promoting Ron Paul. That is the best way to spend my grandchildren’s inheritance. They will benefit more by having President Ron Paul than having $100,000 of fiat money. Our lives, our fortunes, our sacred honor. The Revolution has begun.

Now that’s putting your money where your mouth is!


Indeed, this is an amazing example of courage and dedication. The question I ask is what will happen to this man if Ron Paul does not get the Republican nomination or if he is not elected President? Would the “Revolution”, to use the expression of this Ron Paul supporter, simply be over?

As I have written before, there is only one thing which stands in the way of an openly Fascist President in 2008: a so-called “third party” candidate who would seek to unite behind him on a minimalistic “Jeffersonian” political platform all those in the USA who care about peace and liberty. Considering that these are the values which brought a majority of Americans to send the Democrats into Congress during the last election it is not unreasonable to assume that a majority of Americans would now support such values if given the option, notwithstanding the total betrayal of these voters by the AIPAC-controlled Democrats.

Sure, there is a core of mostly “inbred rednecks” who still believe the lies of the Neocons and who would actually welcome the election of a Fascist President in 2008. And there is a core of pseudo-liberal Democrats who will vote for Hillary just because she is a woman or for Obama because he is Black. But if you give the American population the choice between Neocon imperialism and even more internal control on one hand and a return to a republic and an end to wars of agression on the other I think that no more than 30% of the population will choose the former.

Even if a third party candidate is not elected and even if, as seems likely, Hillary returns to the White House next year, the struggle will not be over. A Hillary Administration, or a Guiliani one for that matter, will fully hand over all US power to the Neocons and AIPAC. It does not take some amazing gift of prophecy to see what that will result in: a bloodbath in the Middle-East and an ugly, and possibly bloody, repression of the internal opposition inside the USA.

In this context I ask two basic questions:

1) Does Ron Paul have the moral right not to run as an independent if he does not get the Republican nomination?

2) Does Ron Paul have the moral right to simply go back to “life as usual” when a Fascist becomes the President in 2008?

My own and unequivocal answer to these two questions is a resounding: NO!

Not only does Ron Paul have a duty to his country, but he also has a duty to all his supporters, like the man who sold his house to give the money to the Paul campaign. For Ron Paul to simply leave the stage and let down all the people who truly believed in him and who sacrificed so much for him would be a complete betrayal.

If Ron Paul does not become President in 2008, by 2010 the entire county will be begging for him to come back and save whatever can be saved from the Neocon folly and its consequences. But if in the meanwhile Ron Paul simply goes back to Congress, or back to Texas, and leaves all his supporters crushed by disappointment, nobody will ever believe any politician again and Americans will cease to believe that there can be an alternative to Fascism. In that case the Ron Paul supporter who sold his house would have been wiser to keep it for his children.

Ron Paul can think about his nomination and election next year, but I sure hope that he also prepares for the worst-case scenario as well. I only hope that he misspoke when he said to Blitzer “I have no intention of doing that”.

40 thoughts on “My biggest fear about Ron Paul”

  1. Scott

    VS, couple things:

    Minor point: Re: Perfect information and perfect competition: Where’d you read that, Keynes? Friedman? I’ve never heard an argument by the Austrians that relied on perfect information and competition and in fact my guess is that they refute the idea. Who ever heard of perfect anything, and who would base a philosophy on an impossible prerequisite?

    2: I disagree with Paul about a few issues too, but I don’t give a damn. He is perfect on 999 out of 1,000 issues. And as far as deregulation goes, is there any question that he’ll work to destroy corporate welfare first, deregulate second? I don’t think so.

    3: I also hope he seeks an independent run if denied the Republican nomination, but he’d also make a great minority leader of the House of Representatives, and he could run for congress again even against Hillary in the fall. If he bolts the Rs he’s giving up his House seat. That’s one consideration. Another is that if he says yes I’ll run as an independent every time he’s asked, it would undermine his run for the Republican nomination. He’s the best Republican and he ought to run against Hillary as one.

  2. vineyardsaker Post Author

    Actually, the issue of the assumption of perfect information for a perfectly competitive market was taught to me as part of the graduate program in international economics at the Paul Nitze School for Advanced International Studies (SAIS). But it also makes sense intuitively: for the market to be perfectly competitive consumers need to have access to the information which allows them to make informed decisions in their best self-interest. If you do not have perfect information you cannot have a perfect competition. Likewise, a perfect competition assumes that everybody can afford access to the info needed to make rational decisions. In real life information costs $$$ and that fact alone makes a perfect market (or an all-solving ‘invisible hand’) impossible.

  3. Scott

    No, see one basis of Heyekian and Misean thought is that no one has perfect information, that’s why you shouldn’t let some bureaucrat with police power act as though he has it. The market is made up of numbers of individuals with their own perception of the information they have been able to gain and the presumption if anything is that the market will tend toward the right answer as their self interests are rewarded when they make the right decision. Not that anyone will ever have perfect information – the sun rises and things change every single day – the question is whether the state or the market are better able to get it right. The market rewards the proper allocation of resources, government’s incentive is always to fail.

  4. SteveC

    I’ll play Devils Advocate regarding individuals acting in their own rational self – interest…..


    This tells you what major advertisers think of people “freely” choosing in their own self interest in making consumer choices.

  5. vineyardsaker Post Author

    you are artificially opposing the *notion* of perfect information with the obvious reality that an centrally planned economy is dysfunctional because no government body can have a true understanding of what is going on (see Greenspan’s admission that he was as clueless when he left then as he came). My point is different. The LACK of access to 1) adequate and 2) affordable information in any developed market makes perfect competition impossible and information becomes monopolized by some “more equal than others”. It is false to assume that the market provides the individual with the feedback needed to correct his choices. In fact, the opposite is true and I would argue that the US society is THE perfect example of that. The logical, if iconoclastic, conclusion which one can draw from this is that any deregulated market always leads to monopolistic competition or outright monopoly.

  6. Anthony Gregory

    You don’t need perfect information to have a free market any more than you have to have perfect, equal access to publication outlets for there to be free speech. Free markets aren’t perfect, but they are the best, most humane and most efficient that markets could possibly be in the real world.

    But anyway, if your biggest problem with Ron Paul is that he might not run next November, I can’t really disagree too strongly with that.

  7. Anthony Gregory

    And deregulation has never caused monopoly. Monopolies are creatures of the state, protected by coercion and political privilege. In America, the most monopolistic entities — utility companies, cable companies, pharmaceutical companies, to say nothing of public agencies themselves — all enjoy government protection.

  8. vineyardsaker Post Author

    Hey guys, look at the comment I just got on my blog in response to my article on my fears about Ron Paul.

    I think you are sadly misinformed if you think socialists Gravel and Kucinich have anything to do with Paul….
    They are diamtrically opposed in philosophy. Paul is for freedom and sovereignty, they are communists..
    God help you.

    Gravel and Kucinich, it turns out, BOTH are 1) socialists AND 2) Communists (yes, simultaneously). As long as that kind of “information” is out there, I would say, to take up where my commentator left, God help us *all*. LOL!

    Seriously, that is the kind of consequences which one gets in a society in which deregulation causes the collapse of information..

  9. Rob McGowan

    Asking Ron Paul whether he would consider running as an independent third party candidate is almost like asking a star baseball player if he will be back next year if he doesn’t win this year. Our best chance is now. We don’t want any energy put into what might happen later. Go Ron Paul!

  10. MikeL

    SteveC: If it is anything, advertising is largely an effort to deprive people of information needed to make rational economic decisions. A positive spin to this state of affairs is to suggest that advertising is deceptive precisely _because_ we generally have all the information we need to make rational choices. For example, what’s so complicated about buying, say, a pair of trousers? Nothing. But make ad glitzy TV ad with lots of sexy women in tight jeans and it becomes a helluva lot more difficult to spend your money in the right place. Take the ads away and we probably have sufficient information to make choices that are not necessarily perfect, but choices that are good enough.

  11. mike in st. lucia

    Question 1. I don’t believe Ron Paul has a moral obligation to run as a third-party candidate. The only chance he has of winning is as a Republican.
    Question 2. He has a moral right to fade into obscurity or do whatever he wants with his life from here on out. He has already established his legacy as the father of the neo-libertarian movement. His legend and his revolution will continue to grow long after a Mossad sniper cuts his life short. He will go down in history as the greatest martyr the United States of Israel has ever known.

  12. Curt

    Amen VS! Unfettered corporate power becomes a plutocratic monster.
    I, too, hope Ron Paul uses the momentum he’s got to run as an independent if not nominated by the republicans,which seems unlikely IMHO. In the Debates,the complete disparity in the amount of time they let him talk compared to Guliani and Romney is so fucking ill. You can hear announcers and the other candidates snickering in the background and he’s made to seem a joke even when he’s saying smart, obvious, and simple truths.
    Great post,

  13. JT

    Scott, That’s a good column you’ve written! I share your concern about Ron Paul’s future. As much as I hope he wins the Republican nomination, we have to be realistic in saying that the chance of doing so is very small. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do all that we can to advance his candidacy in the coming months, in terms of writing, money, organizing, and voting. The better he does in the primaries and caucuses the greater the impact we’ll see for freedom, peace, and democracy.

    So I don’t want to discourage anyone from going all out for Paul ’08. But the GOP is not going to choose him as its presidential nominee. Even if he would win the New Hampshire primary, this would only ensure a vitriolic counterattack by the party establishment and its allies in the mainstream media. Instead of ignoring and occasionally ridiculing Paul, they would begin ripping into him. Every unusual statement would be highlighted. That reputed racist remark about black people that was supposedly in some RP newsletter written by a screwball staffer but issued under the Congressman’s name would become front-page news. The kookiest of the Paul supporters would be featured on television raving about the Protocols of Zion or the need to privatize police departments (never mind that they wouldn’t be representative of the larger Paul constituency; they would be suitably kooky which is all that matters). Smear after smear would be issued by the neocons, Rockefeller Republicans, and just plain party hacks.

    Barry Goldwater could survive–in the sense of winning intraparty contests, including the nomination–in 1964 because he was going into the primary season as the frontrunner. In November 1963, Goldwater was the Giuliani, Romney, or Thompson of his day. He was a first-teir candidate, in terms of money, publicity, and momentum. Ron Paul does not have that. Instead, look at what happened to Pat Buchanan in 1996. He was more famous than RP, he had more resources, he had run a strong campaign for the nomination four years earlier, andhe had the personal goodwill of many political and journalistic insiders even if they thought his political ideas were absurd. As soon as he won the New Hampshire primary, amiable Pat became Pat the Nazi who endangered all of civilization. The barrage that came his way was intense. He was edged out in the Arizona primary and he never regained his early momentum.

    It’s fine for the public face of the campaign, and for us as grassroots activists, to focus on the Republican nomination. But someone inside the Paul campaign had better be thinking beyond next March. What is going to happen to all the votes, dollars, and enthusiasm–and the unique perspective and neglected issues–that comprise the Ron Paul Revolution? Is it all going to die in the ballot boxes of South Carolina or end in a unity hug at the national convention in St. Paul as Ron Paul gives his blessing to a Giuliani-Huckabee ticket or Romney-Thompson ticket? I hope not! There ought to be a Plan B.

    Lying and parsing words come naturally to most politicians, but Paul is not a typical politician. So when he’s asked a direct question, I suppose he doesn’t want to lie. Perhaps he really isn’t thinking about a third-party bid right now. Maybe he’s just focused on the GOP nomination. That makes some sense for him, personally. But he shouldn’t close the door. He could just answer, “I’m running for the Republican nomination. I’m not thinking beyond that.” Or, “I don’t answer hypothetical questions.” Or, “Anything is possible. We’ll see how things stand next spring.” Whatever he says publicly, I hope he realizes privately that there are many Americans who want a real choice come next November. None of the major-party frontrunners offer that. “A Choice Not an Echo,” as Phyllis Schlafly said about BMG in 1964.

    There are definitely some similarities between Paul and Gravel-Kucinich. They do share many common Jeffersonian principles. Obviously there are some differences on the hot-button social/moral issues of the day. Kucinich is much more infected by political correctness and enthralled by the welfare state. Still, of the 418 members of the House of Representatives who voted on September 25, 2007 on a gratuitous bill created by the Israeli-government lobby “strongly condemning the U.N. Human Rights Council for ignoring severe human rights abuses in various countries, while choosing to unfairly target Israel…”, there is a reason that the only two members to vote Nay were Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul. Of course, RP would pull out of the UN altogether while DK continues to have a naive faith in the value of the organization. I’m more impressed by Mike Gravel among the Democrats. He’s the only one of the bunch–including Kucinich–who says what he really thinks in the debates without regard to consequences. What does he have to lose? Kucinich doesn’t have much to lose either, but for some reason he thinks he does which is why he ends up endorsing imperialistic war-mongers like Kerry and pulling his punches in debates.

    Personally, I’d like to see a Paul-Gravel ticket nominated by a new, broad-based populist party next year. One that’s broad enough to encompass not only the Libertarian and Constitution party but even the Greens. We will probably never agree on the secondary issues but it’s all a moot point as long as the Power Elite controls the decision-making apparatus. The primary issues are what unite the Left and Right, the libertarians and moralists, the creationists and ecologists. Primary issues like do we want a global empire purchased with the blood of the unfamous and unrich (Americans and foreigners alike)? Do we want centralized control of our daily lives in the hands of Washington bureaucrats? Do we want a nation characterized by agribusiness conglomerates, media concentration, proliferation of big-box chain stores at the expense of community and decent wages, and cheap consumer crap made in Communist China and other cheap-labor, authoritarian states?

    The most important issue of all, and one on which populists of all varieties can agree, is the question Who Rules? That’s the basic question of politics. Do we want majority rule–yes, with minority rights as an attendant feature–or minority rule? Either the many or the few are going to be in charge. We’ve had the few ruling us for many years. If the populists of this nation cannot unite under a Ron Paul candidacy or some party’s umbrella there will never be an occasion to overthrow that rule. That’s what a revolution is. We’re going to have to build some bridges to granola eaters and Bible believers and others who may be unaccustomed to hanging out with libertarians. We’ve seen some of those bridges being built by, The American Conservative, CounterPunch, Green Horizon Quarterly, the Antiwar League, and the Ron Paul campaign. Let’s unite to take control of our government from the oligarchs. Then we can use honest debate among ourselves–the unfamous, unwealthy, unprivileged 95% of America–to figure out what should be done in crafting policy to address education, health care, race, abortion, homosexuality, and all the other issues that are cynically used to divide and conquer the demos.

  14. NickelP

    VS good article. Many good points. I do have to say though, I find Scott’s explanation to be the most consistent with what I have learned here:

    This website has really helped me re-understand many things that when were taught, did not make much sense. I would recommend this resource to anyone who wants to get the BIG picture.

  15. JT

    I think I’m confused. I complimented Scott for the “My biggest fear” column but I see now it was written by vineyardsaker. My thanks to whoever wrote it!

  16. Mace Price

    “…A Hillary Administration, or a Giuliani one for that matter, will fully hand over all US power to to the neo-Cons and AIPAC. It does not take some amazing gift of of prophecy to see what that will result in: a blood bath inside The Middle East, and an ugly, and possibly bloody, repression of internal opposition inside The USA.”

    …Kudos VS, because these [your] prognostications are even now coming true.

  17. Oscar Goldman

    Ron Paul, with his literal interpretation of the Contstitution, would understand and heed the duty to be in check by the Congress and Supreme Court.

    Because Social Security is pretty much universally recognized these days as a price paid to buy peace in society, I don’t think Ron Paul would get very far in dismantling it, nor would he waste his time doing so.

    I think he’d do what is in his power. Stop the war. Veto the waste and corporate welfare. End the war on drugs. Loosen from entangling alliances. Reform the monetary policy of the nation. These things alone would seriously turn the country around irrespective of what his controversial views on the welfare state may be.

  18. Jean

    VS: As always, great post and wonderful observations are made by your thoughful mind. I love the fact here that one can speak his or her mind, and get a great deal of feedback to either get praise, or to have someone point out errors in thinking and judgement. I wish to comment on your post on information and about Dr. Paul and running as an independent.
    As Scott and Mr. Gregory mentioned above, the marketplace, left alone, is the best possible way we know of to try and get the most information to as many people as possible. Whether it right or not, that decision should left to those who either benefit from it or lose their pants. Take Scott’s show for instance.
    Scott takes a great deal of his time to read up on issues in order to prepare for his show. He finds the best possible guests to speak about that topic, and present his and the guests point of view.
    In the meantime, and audience listens in, and deciphers what is said, and the judgement is left to those who listen. The information, if proven correct, will earn Scott with more listeners, and advertisers, and possibly an increase in his salary. I’ve been to many freedom functions, and whenever his name is brought up, what is said is he’s a great host, and has a great show, and they gain knowledge from listening to it.
    If he was to put on a phony, or someone that doesn’t know what the heck he or she is talking about, first, he’d hear it hear on this forum, and if it continued, he’d lose listeners, and eventually his position. Same goes with Anthony Gregory. I saw him speak at the FFF conference in June. He gave a marvelous speech of the inconsistencies of US Foreign Policy over the last 100 years. It’s obvious that he did his homework, and his presentation was given a thunderous applause. Why? Because the information he gave was accurate, and on target. If it wasn’t, he would have heckled, and chastised during the Q and A session, and probably would not have been invited back to any future FFF function. I know that maybe a bit simplistic, but they are just examples.
    It should be the individual that should take the effort to find out if the information giving about a product or service is correct or not. And business should stop catering to government for favors, and instead please consumers.
    As far as regulations, take a guess on who pushes for more and more regs? If you said corporations and big business, go to the head of the pack. One prime example was that Enron lobbied heavily for the Kyoto treaty. Why? Because they would have made a ton of money, due to the fact they owned coal fired plants in Venezula and Brazil, and since these two countries would have not been covered by the treaty, Enron would have made a bundle.
    Also, the big tobacco companies actually favored the tobacco settlement made with the states. Why? Simple. It relieved them from any future liability, and because it made them into a cartel, due to the fact that if any other tobacco company tried to get into the business, they would have to agree to the settlement, even though they weren’t in business at the time of the agreed settlement. (I would highly reccomend the book, “The Big Ripoff:How Big Business and Big Government steal your money”. It’s written by Tim Carney, who is no leftist. He’s an associate of Robert Novak. But the book is an excellent resource. Maybe Scott can have him on the show one day. )
    Now, to Ron Paul. Dr. Paul has stated many times he was very reluctant to enter the race. He felt the freedom message wouldn’t sell in America. However, over time, he’s changed his tune. I say good. However, as you may know, he’s been down the independent, third party road before. He ran in 1988 as the Libertarian candidate, and was able to get on 46 states, and received over 435,000 votes.
    If he was to run as a independent, or in this case, libertarian, he would have to exit the race now, so that he and the campaign would focus their attention on getting enough petition signatures to get on all 50 state ballots. I believe right now the LP has permanet ballot access in 15 states. I could be wrong, but I believe that is an accurate number. (If I’m wrong, someone please correct me)
    Every state varies, but take Oklahoma. In that state, I believe you need 100,000 signatures to get on the presidential ballot. You’d have to collect 150,000-200,000 signatures in order to obtain the correct number to get on the ballot. He’d have to switch resources from delivering his message to getting petition signatures.
    Secondly, he’d lose some of his fundraising ability. He still has some support in the GOP, but quite a few of them would run from his campaign, and probably go with Huckabee, or someone else in the GOP. I still think he’d retain most of his donor base, but some would run. Since it appears he will not accept federal matching funds, (and I hope he doesn’t) that is something else to consider.
    Believe, I had to swallow my pride and register as a Repugnat, just in order to become a delegate, if that will happen.
    If the GOP doesn’t nominate Dr. Paul as it’s candidate, I predict Hillary will win. However, what Dr. Paul has done is created an opportunity for like minded people to consider running in the future. For that, I think we owe a great deal of gradtitude, and thanks.
    Wow, long winded here. Forgive me!!

  19. John Delano

    A free market means the state just stays out of the market. Information isn’t ever perfect, but it is increasingly available to more people.

    Net neutrality as mandated by the state is a form of price control which would bring on shortages. With the internet, this would likely be in the form of outages and restricting bandwidth.

    I also agree with the others that say that discussion of a non-Republican run should be avoided by Ron Paul at this time. It would only give his opponents more reason to exclude him from public events. Has he thought about it himself? I don’t know. I don’t know if he thought about running at all about a year or two ago. And Ron Paul is not going to support any of the other Republican candidates as they are now.

    If we end up with a Rudy, Hillary or Romney presidency with a pushover congress like we have had for about a decade, then I think we need to start putting our efforts into some serious secession movements.

  20. Curt

    “Of the many trends in globalisation, the crucial one today is corporate globalism. A world driven by and for corporate profits. Based on corporate greed rather than human need. It’s a world marked by the collapse of restraint on corporate power, in every continent.”

    P. Sainath


    an excerpt of this Palast piece on Ex World bank whistleblower Joseph Stiglitz(remember palast studied economics with the “chicago boys”):”Palast: No he didn’t get his Nobel Prize for taking a courageous position on globalization, questioning the orthodoxy. But it was his work prior that led him to that direction. He created the field of information economics. Now, it’s a little technical but maybe it’s worth understanding a little bit. The entire theory of the right wing that free markets always work, is based on something very interesting. It’s based on what’s called rational expectations and that’s based on, in the field of economics, that information is free, that markets communicate information for free. Well there is a big problem for an economist to say that a product is free. If you think information free then try taking a copy of the New York Times from a newsstand with out paying for it. If you think information is free then how come we pay a trillion dollars a decade to the CIA to find out more of it. Information is very expensive stuff and if the information is expensive then markets can not work freely and properly automatically, you have to regulate, you have to have government make sure that someone doesn’t cheat the market.

    Lloyd Hart: Especially when your getting into intellectual properties. In that case information is very expensive.

  21. vineyardsaker Post Author

    @Anthony Gregory: In America, the most monopolistic entities — utility companies, cable companies, pharmaceutical companies, to say nothing of public agencies themselves — all enjoy government protection.
    Yes, I agree. But how did the corporations become so powerful in the first place to eventually even own the government? The point of democratic regulation is, I submit, to *PREVENT* the corporations to ever get such a grip on power in the first place. Corporations either serve the public, or screw the public. Both ways are for them a way to make money though they can make more money by screwing the public than by serving it so the public, the society, has to make sure that corporations are kept in check and that they have to limit themselves to making money by serving the society. There are plenty of corporations in Europe doing just well, but their power is kept in check by the civil society. In the robber-baron based US society the corporations *own* the nation and make the American people serve them.
    @Jean – with all due respect for the FFF and their conferences, I would point out to you that the speakers there are pretty much preaching to a very American choir and that if these speakers spoke to an audience of, say, French students at the Ecole Normale they would face much, much tougher Q&A sessions. This is one of my biggest bones of contentions with many Americans: they think that if something is true in the USA it is true period. Not so – the world is far bigger, far more complex and far more diverse than the self-centered US society is lead to believe.
    @JT – your comments are so interesting that I re-published them in-extenso on my blog. I hope you do not mind 😉
    @ Rob – please remember that politics is the art of the possible and the science of foreseeing the future and hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. Being too cheerful is a sure recipe for hangover the morning after.

  22. Ozymandias

    I agree with Anthony that it’s good that you see Paul as the best candidate to vote for even if your grasp of economics is shaky.
    The free market doesn’t need to rely on “perfect competition”, or “perfect information” or perfect anything. There is no such thing as “perfect “.
    Your statement that a totally free market has never existed is wrong. It exists at small levels every day. When you make an exchange that isn’t coerced with someone, you have engaged in a free market exchange. For example, posting this blog message. No one forced you to write it, and no one stopped us from allowing it to be posted, or forced us to post it. It was a free act engaged in by individuals in a state of voluntary association.
    Your post is full of “corporate this” and “corporate that”, but no corporation in a libertarian system is capable of forcing anyone to do anything without breaking the law. And a libertarian legal system would punish the Hell out of them for doing it. Have you read Rothbard’s “The Ethics of Liberty”? check out Chapter 13. “Punishment and Proportionality”. In it he suggests that criminals should have to pay the victims at least twice what they stole. If a corporation were conducting criminal business it would be a financial disaster that would cripple the company and its shareholders. And of course such business would happen anyway, as it does now. We are imperfect beings. But at least in a libertarian society the victims of the crime would be compensated, not the Corporatis Rex, ie. the State.
    Now, as I’ve said before here, I hate corporations too, unlike Randroids. Some more than others. I despise those Apple cretins. The Big Three automakers, and basically the entire city of Detroit, can go eff themselves. The RIAA/MPAA. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing.
    But you know what? None of them, miserable bastards that they are, has the institutionalized right to commit crimes against me. And the “power” you talked about in one of the comments — the power you’re worried about corporations grasping today — doesn’t exist in a libertarian society.

  23. vineyardsaker Post Author

    Your statement that a totally free market has never existed is wrong. It exists at small levels every day.
    Well, the context of my remark was obviously about a market seen at the level of a society, not in a private transaction. A rule of thumb in programming is that when you double the size of the code you square the number of bugs in it. Actually, this true for information in general. Think about it, is there not a paradox in saying that a state with all its huge administration, its analytical centers, its think tanks filled with PhD. does not have a grasp on what is really happening in the market, but that the individual citizen will or, even worse, that the sum of individual citizens making decisions will push the market in the right direction?
    Your post is full of “corporate this” and “corporate that”, but no corporation in a libertarian system is capable of forcing anyone to do anything without breaking the law
    Which is just great, except for it remains something as theoretical as when Communists declare that no crime will exist in a communist society because crime is the result of exploitation. The problem is not with the Libertarian dream any more than with the Communist dream. As with any utopia, Its *getting there* which is where problems start.

  24. anti-fascist

    VS — relax man. Your thesis reminds me of catastrophic global warming hysteria. Anyone but Paul = “openly Fascist President in 2008.” Sorry, but that’s overblown. Even with President Giuliani the US would still be a pluralist society with (imperfect but functioning) separation of powers and federalism, an elected Congress held by the opposition party, an independent press and judiciary, plus the Internet. While it’s true that without Paul the foreign policy will be awful and the war on terrorism will get worse, it’s a long long way from contemporary U.S. politics to Russia in the 30s or Hitler. Maybe it’s harder for Europeans to see this when you only see the business end of the empire. Here life goes on as usual, except for the airports, as long as you avoid the police, but that’s the same as anywhere. America used to be exceptional with respect to personal liberty– now we’re pretty much like anywhere else. The bottom line is, if Paul wins, great, but it’s not the end of the world if he doesn’t. Not even close.

  25. Ozymandias

    In regards to the latter observation, I never used the word “Utopia”. I don’t hope for nor expect a utopia.

    Think about it, is there not a paradox in saying that a state with all its huge administration, its analytical centers, its think tanks filled with PhD. does not have a grasp on what is really happening in the market, but that the individual citizen will or, even worse, that the sum of individual citizens making decisions will push the market in the right direction?

    Yes. Because the individual makes decisions only in regards to what is in his best interests. This is what human beings know best. The merchant makes decisions that are in the best interests of his business, the private individual makes decisions that are in his best interests. The Corporatis Rex makes decisions that are in its bests interests as well. The best interests of the State are to rob all of us and make us think the robbery is protection.

  26. vineyardsaker Post Author

    anti-fascist, I suggest that you are not going to be much of, well, an anti-fascist if you are going to miss all the signs of fascism permeating the USA. Please take a look at this: and see if the USA is close to becoming a fascist state or not, ok?
    And one more thing: there is a global warming crisis, however much some wish to deny it (but I simply have not time or desire to debate this one here)

  27. vineyardsaker Post Author

    The best interests of the State are to rob all of us and make us think the robbery is protection. That might be true, or not, for *YOUR* state. But when you say “THE” state (Switzerland? Venezuela? Ireland? Norway?) we are entering the realm of dogma, not analysis. And dogmas are appropriate for religions and utopias, not politics.

  28. anti-fascist

    VS, you can make anything anything by redefining it. But there’s no threat of fascism in the sense of one party rule by brownshirts. That’s not what’s at stake in U.S. politics right now. As for the global warming scam, I’m taking bets on skiing powder at Taos ski resort in New Mexico in 2042, when I’ll be an old man and the powder will still be deep and light.

  29. vineyardsaker Post Author

    For fascism, I use the Wikipedia definition and I bring up facts. Did you check my article about Guiliani? If you deny that he is a 100% real fascist I really wonder what kind of anti-fascist you are…

    As for snow, the mountains I used to sky in every week-end when I was a kid are now totally green throughout the winter. the glaciers have melted and the snow is gone. but maybe US mountains are “bigger and better”? 😉

  30. Jean

    With all due respect VS, it seems to me you’ve adopted the “group think” mentality that has so plagued not only the USA, but most of the rest of the world. Liberty pertains to individuals, and frankly, FFF, as well as other freedom organizations would love for the idea of foreigners attending there conferences and asking the Q & A’s which would relate to their areas of the world. (Thanks to Homeland Security, make that task a little tough) Are you also suggesting that Americans are so closed minded about the state of affairs in other parts of the world, that they aren’t capable of asking tough questions at such functions? I know some of us are closed minded, and have never left this country, but don’t put us all in that basket.
    I may not have traveled to all of the world, but I’ve seen enough to realize that freedom and liberty just doesn’t benefit Americans, it benefits all human beings. But, as you said, the tough part is convincing people that it’s in their best interest, to which again, I think we owe a great deal of credit to Dr. Paul.

  31. Ozymandias

    VS: Good point. Here’s Hoppe’s definition of a State:

    A state is defined conventionally as an agency that exercises a compulsory territorial monopoly of ultimate decision-making (jurisdiction) and of taxation. By definition then, every state, regardless of its particular constitution, is economically and ethically deficient. Every monopolist is “bad” from the viewpoint of consumers. Monopoly is hereby understood as the absence of free entry into a particular line of production: only one agency, A, may produce X.

    Obviously, all states possess these qualities to one degree or another, and states that are bombing civilians abroad and terrorizing the civilian population at home are worse than states like Switzerland or New Zealand or Monaco. But the definition, and the nature, of the state remains the same.

  32. vineyardsaker Post Author

    FYI – Some good stuff of Wikipedia on free market problems:

    1) Perfect competition:
    2) Free Riders:
    3) Externalites:
    4) Public goods:
    5) Perfect information:
    6) Complete information:

    The particularly relevant one here is the first one which begins with this:
    Perfect competition requires that the following six parameters be fulfilled. In such a market, prices would normally move instantaneously to economic equilibrium.

    1) Atomicity
    An atomistic market is one in which there are a large number of small producers and consumers on a given market, each so small that its actions have no significant impact on others. Firms are price takers, meaning that the market sets the price that they must choose.
    2) Homogeneity
    Goods and services are perfect substitutes; that is, there is no product differentiation. (All firms sell an identical product)
    3) Perfect and complete information
    All firms and consumers know the prices set by all firms (see perfect information and complete information).
    4) Equal access
    All firms have access to production technologies, and resources are perfectly mobile.
    5) Free entry
    Any firm may enter or exit the market as it wishes (see barriers to entry).
    6) Individual buyers and sellers act independently
    The market is such that there is no scope for groups of buyers and/or sellers to come together with a view to changing the market price (collusion and cartels are not possible under this market structure)

    my 2cts

  33. Paul

    “Are you also suggesting that Americans are so closed minded about the state of affairs in other parts of the world, that they aren’t capable of asking tough questions at such functions.”

    Haven’t you ever seen on of those Jay Leno “Man in the street” segments.

    America is full of people that can’t answer correctly the qustion,”What year did 911 happen?” 😆

  34. SteveC

    Mike in St. Lucia: Knock that shit off.

    I know this quote Scott…… This was GWB caught with an open mic while trying to get some “sweet” person on the phone during the Israel – Lebanon conflict……

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